Germinating Seeds Fast with Paper Towel

Germinating seeds is easy.

In all essence, it’s just placing a seed in the right place at the right time. Get your seeds, slap some dirt on them, water it, leave it in a warm area, and let nature do the work.

But there is a way to make germination even faster, cheaper, and with less hassle. No need for seed starting mix or heating pads! It’s called the paper towel or baggie method, and you can use items that you already have in your kitchen! All you need is a paper towel, water, a sandwich bag, seeds, and time.

Let me tell you how.

Why You Should Germinate Seeds Using Paper Towels

Germinating seeds in paper towels seems a bit more than an 8th-grade science experiment than a germination method. So why not buy plants or germinate seeds in seed starting mix instead?

1. Germinating Seeds with Paper Towel Takes Less Space

Even a minimalist seed setup like mine takes up an entire windowsill, and even more, plants can take up more space than we have. Since it’s just a simple plastic bag, you can sprout more seeds closer together and take up less space.

2. You Can’t Get Any Cheaper Than Paper Towels And Sandwich Bags

The cost of seed germination can add up and be a turn-off. Even with reusing containers, there is still the cost of growing medium, domes, heating pads, grow lights, and more. By germinating seeds with a paper towel, your only expenses are your seeds, paper towels, sandwich bags, and a few cents of your water bill.

3. Your Seeds Will Germinate Faster Than in A Mix

The wondrous thing about using the paper towel method is that you can germinate any vegetable and flower seed with it. The added humidity and heat from the plastic bag acts as a greenhouse and speed up the germination process.With the paper towel method, I found that my kidney beans sprouted in 2-4 days. Way quicker than the 4-7 days it would take to germinate in soil.

4. It’s Easier to Test Seeds for Viability

Seeds lose viability over time. And sadly, you can’t figure out its viability at first glance. And it can be such a waste to buy new seed packets when old ones are still good for planting. By germinating seeds in paper towel, you’ll be able to figure out your rate of germination and organize your seeds better! I’ll tell you how later in this post.

How to Germinate Seeds In Paper Towels

Step 1: Get Your Supplies

You will need:

  • Seeds
  • Sandwich Bags
  • Paper Towels

If you prefer, you can also use coffee filters. Garden Betty says that the tighter weave prevents the roots from growing through the paper and making the transplanting process more complicated.

Step 2: Unfold and Moisten Your Paper Towel

Open up your paper towel and moisten it. You can use a spray bottle or run it under water and wring it out to make it damp. Make sure that water is not dripping, or your seeds will drown.

Step 3: Add Your Seeds On The Paper Towel

Add your seeds on one half of your paper towel around 1 inch apart to let roots grow.

Step 4: Fold Your Paper Towel

Fold the empty half on top of the seeds. If your seeds are big like the beans here, you’ll want to fold a bit of the edge to the center to prevent them from falling.

Step 5: Place Your Seeds in the Bag

Carefully place the paper towel in the bag, leaving air for the seeds to breathe. You can blow air into the bag or leave the bag open to allow airflow.

Step 6: Wait for Your Seeds to Germinate

Place the bag flat on a warm place like in front of a windowsill or the top of a fridge to germinate. Check the seeds daily.

How to Test Seeds for Viability

For testing seeds for viability, select your seeds and choose 10 of them to place on the paper towel. Gently fold the paper towel and place it in the bag.

Wait for the recommended germinated time on the seed packet, and see how many sprouted. If 10 out of 10 germinated, that means your seeds have a 100% germination rate. 90 and 80% are also exceptional rates. If 6-7 of your seeds sprout, sow them a little closer together. If you get a germination rate of 50% or below, it’s time to get new seeds.

After Germinating Your Seeds

When you see roots growing from your seeds, it’s time to transplant. Be careful not to disturb the delicate taproot. If the paper towel sticks to the sprouts, let it bee. Also, don’t get rid of the seed shell. The seedling will get rid of it.

Dig a hole big enough to fit both the seed and the taproot. If there are leaves, let the leaves poke out above the soil. You will still need to harden them out for a few weeks before transferring them outside. And then, your seedlings will be ready to grow big and strong in your garden.

Before you go, snag your FREE gardening Dictionary! You will also receive my monthly “Plant of the Month” newsletter and will be the first to be in the know about new articles, products and updates!.

That’s all for now. Happy gardening! Till we meet again.

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